The Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales

The Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales is based in Sóller. You should make your way there, one day. Yesterday, I wanted to pass by there, on my mad island hopping crusade but, as you may have gathered, there simply was not enough time.

The science museum shares its premises with the Jardín Botánico de Sóller. They are both very special; I enjoy going there every time. Mind you, I have now not been for close to two years.

Entrance for a combined admission to the museum and the gardens is charged at 5 €. Opening hours are from 10h00 to 18h00 (Monday to Saturday).

The photo was taken in Sóller, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 17th, 2008. The time was 14:34:58.

The Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales

24 Hours in the Life of an Island

(near Felanitx, at 00:40:23)

Twenty-eight years ago today, I orchestrated an exciting photo event in Los Angeles, California, in collaboration with one Red Saunders. Together, we edited the book that covered that event: 24 Hours in the Life of Los Angeles. All those years ago, we had assembled a team of 145 people, including 103 photographers from all over the world plus 16 local school children, to capture the life in this metropolis in the run-up to the 1984 Olympic Games.

Today, I have the pleasure to invite you to sample a similar adventure, somewhat different but nonetheless exciting, albeit without its results ending up in a glossy coffee-table book. I endeavour the making of a comprehensive portrait of Mallorca, my home for the last 25 years, by taking photographs over a period of 24 hours in the life of this island. This time, there is no team and there are no other photographers involved or invited. I will upload photos every few hours, depending on broadband connection, and today’s post will grow bigger and longer as the day progresses. The first photo was taken this morning at 00h40 on top of Puig de Sant Salvador near Felanitx, and the last one will be captured just before midnight in Plaça d’Espanya in Felanitx. Let’s see how it goes and let’s witness, if I will last the Tour de Force.

(Portocolom, at 01:28:42)

(Porto Cristo, at 02:03:46)

(Son Servera, at 02:52:00)

(near Canyamel, at 03:10:01)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:32:23)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:43:12)

(Felanitx, at 04:39:18)

I made a scheduled return to Felanitx to upload the first photos of this self-set challenge. Quite unscheduled, I fell asleep and had a 45 minutes nap. I was still good on time and schedule, though.

(near Petra, at 07:41:13)

(near Petra, at 08:00:33)

(Santa Margalida, at 09:24:54)

(Muro, at 10:44:09)

(near Muro, at 11:35:52)

At this time, I was still running to schedule, more or less. But it began to dawn on me that the task I had set might be a bigger one than I had calculated. I may have underestimated the challenge and the sheer distance between places, and I may have overestimated my abilities as a one-man-band. I decided that Mallorca was, in fact, a continent.

(near Muro, at 12:11:55)

(Port de Pollença, at 13:59:13)

(Pollença, at 14:18:33)

By now, it was quite evident that I was running late, and well behind schedule. I decided to alter my route plan. Instead of returning south via Crestatx, Sineu and Sant Joan, I decided to go up into the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana to see if I could catch up on time by eliminating some of the planned stops.

(near Pollença, at 14:58:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:23:18)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:25:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:32:31)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:33:02)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:37:35)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:43:27)

It now was clear: there was no way I could complete the whole island portrait, and comprehensive at that, within the self-elected time frame of 24 hours. For a start, there was no way that I could upload any photos during the course of my parcours. There were just too many kilometres to be driven from point to point. Mallorca is too big an island to be ticked off in one single day by one individual. I realized that I would have needed to employ the good services of a driver to allow me to concentrate on the scene selection and the location, instead of me minding the business of getting there in the first place. And it would have been wise to seek the support of an assistant to keep my back free from the logistics of the task. Me, on my own, doing the driving, route planning, rescheduling, time keeping, scene selection, setting up the tripod, shooting, editing, copy writing, Lightroom-ing, WordPress formatting and what have you, was just too much for one elderly man. And I was getting tired, sleepy, red-eyed, exhausted and anxious. I needed a hug, or a helpline, or something.

(near Sóller, at 15:51:15)

(Sóller, at 16:45:14)

(Sóller, at 17:03:36)

(Sóller, at 17:11:26)

In Sóller, I accepted the inevitability of defeat. It simply was impossible to cover all of Mallorca or at least, all 48 locations that I had scheduled, in one day and on my own. I would barely manage half that number and not even half the total distance. By now I had done some 300 kms, and I would surely need to do the same again, or more, with more than two thirds of the time already gone. I would need to be fitter (and younger), less mad, better equipped, better supported and assisted, and more realistic. I should simply have listened to my wife.

(Alfàbia, at 17:46:32)

(Alfàbia, at 17:54:46)

In Alfàbia I decided to go home. I needed to upload some of my photos and take stock. I might go out again after that to cover some of the Mallorcan hinterland, Porreres, Campos, Llucmajor, Sant Joan, Villafranca, Sineu, Llubi, and so on. For now, I certainly would not be able to cover the western parts of the island, Andratx, Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Valldemossa, Deià, Orient, Alaró, Bunyola; I might have to have another go at the region at some later stage. Palma, I was pretty sure that I would skip Palma for now.

(Felanitx, at 23:43:43)

Having aborted the project and not having gone out again once I arrived back home after 20 hours on the road and in the hot sun, I was busy photo editing, photo optimizing and uploading. I now did not need to do that final shot just before midnight that I had scheduled from earlier this morning. But I wanted to do it anyhow to have a pair of bookends, so to speak. As it happens, I met my friend John and he kindly agreed to pose as another mad hatter for mad me. No. This is not me sitting there, just in case you wondered.

Good night, and thank you for joining me on this ride and this very long day indeed. I need some sleep now.

24 Hours in the Life of an Island

A Country at a Standstill?

Today’s motto will be 29-M Huelga General.

A nationwide General Strike is scheduled for Spain for today, March 29th. Beware. 445 flights have been cancelled so far, between Iberia and Air Europe alone. Trains, buses, taxis, underground and ferry services will also be affected, as well as petrol stations, postal services, hospitals, TV and radio stations, court rooms, street cleaning services, public libraries, and many other facilities, including schools and universities.

Some minimum services will be maintained, it is said but, who really knows? The country may suffer a virtual standstill.

The strike was called by Spain’s largest unions in protest to the government’s recent change of legislation of workers’ rights and a cutback in compensation in the case of the termination of an employment contract. By 07h00 this morning, there had been 39 arrests all over Spain, in the main of pickets.

A demonstration will be held today at 18h30 in Palma’s Plaça d’Espanya, the Avingudes, Passeig de Mallorca, Passeig del Borne and Plaça Major.

Many observers in Spain predict a rather low outcome of strike participation. Spain is not – yet – Greece. It is argued that the majority of employed people, although in favour of the protest action, are fearful of putting their current employment situation at risk. Other workers or employees worry about a likely loss of income should they not turn up for work today. Money is tight in Spain.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of elmundo.es.

Muchas gracias.

A Country at a Standstill?

Delightful Pear Trees in Bloom

I sometimes wonder whether I like the first Mallorcan Springtime better than the second one, or the other way round. The first Primavera would be in January/February with half the island covered in white and pink almond blossoms, whereas the second Primavera would be now, from mid-March to mid-Aril, when hundreds of fruit trees of the peach, cherry, nectarine, apple, pear, prunes, plums variety and the like are in full bloom. The blossoms in today’s photo would appear to be of the pear variety (Pyrus communis); please correct me if I should be wrong. This pear is native to the island, strange as it may sound, as is the cherry (Prunus mahaleb).

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 20th, 2012. The time was 17:58:20.

Delightful Pear Trees in Bloom

The Apollo Lunar Module in Costitx

The Observatori Astronòmic de Mallorca (OAM) in Costitx has a new attraction, an Apollo Lunar Module replica. The Lunar Module was the landing portion of the Apollo spacecraft.

The astronomic centre, observatory and planetarium is certainly worth a visit, all thanks to Maria Antònia Munar. I wonder how she is doing these days. She is said to be seriously ill, apart from being under criminal investigation and facing a possible prison term.

Opening hours for Planetarium sessions in Costitx are Fridays and Saturdays from 19h00 (Winter, i. e. now) and 20h00 (Summer – June, July, August, September). Visits to the observatory have to be arranged by appointment, unless you are a student and your school has taken care of the arrangements. For information or reservations, telephone 650.386.881 (09h30-13h30 only, Monday to Friday).

I can’t help feeling bewildered by the lack of information and promotion of Mallorca’s many attractions such as this one. Enormous amounts of money are spent on some really incredible projects and installations which then are often neglected, closed, forgotten about and sometimes go to waste. Take the Palma Arena, for example, or the Llotja or, today’s example, the OAM in Costitx. A great shame, really.

The photo was taken near Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 12th, 2011. The time was 14:19:01.

The Apollo Lunar Module in Costitx

Lavender Hill

The bounteous lavender plant (Latin: Lavandula) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. In Southern Spain and here in Mallorca the plant grows wild as the Lavandula dentata species, better known by the English common name of French lavender. The Catalan name is Gal·landa or Lavanda; the name in Castellan is Alhucema rizada or Lavanda.

You can find Spanish lavender when out on a hike in its natural habitat in low woodland or Garrigues shrubland. The plant is in flower now, from January to May. I don’t imagine that the plant is protected. It grows rather free and loose.

The photo was taken near Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 14th, 2012. The time was 16:55:10.

Lavender Hill

The Fundación Bartolomé March

In Palma, there are two institutions called Fundación March. The first one is the Museu Fundación Juan March, set up by Juan March Ordinas, the contrabandista and later founder of Banca March, the father, who died 50 years ago this month. The second institution is called Fundación Bartolomé March, set up by the younger son of the patriarch and housed in the Palau March (see photo) in Palma, not far from Palma’s Cathedral. You might have sat in one of the trendy Cappuccino Grand Café hangouts without knowing what was going on in that very building above you.

The father, Juan March Ordinas, had wanted to join the social ranks of the Círculo Mallorquín, situated next door and today seat of the Parlament de les Illes Balears. The members of that club rejected the arriviste’s advances. Without as much as blinking an eye, Juan March bought the premisses next door and built a lavish palatial mansion, the Palau March, now home of the Fundación Bartolomé March, adorning its façade with a faux crest of arms complete with regal crown. Today, this set-up houses a formidable collection of 20th Century sculpture with works by renowned artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Max Bill, Eduardo Chillida and others, an outstanding library of manuscripts and precious books, an exceptional collection of top-notch Mallorcan cartographical treasures and a vast display of beautiful nativity crib figures from Naples, dating from the 18th century.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2008. The time was 19:24:34.

The Fundación Bartolomé March